LINGUIST List 2.674

Thu 17 Oct 1991

Disc: Phonological Issues

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Richard Ogden, RE: 2.669 Phonology and Sound Change
  2. Michel Jackson, R-Insertion
  3. Jim Scobbie, (Re: 2.669) Autosegmental representations
  4. John Phillips, Re: Query intrusive r-insertion

Message 1: RE: 2.669 Phonology and Sound Change

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 91 9:18 BST
From: Richard Ogden <>
Subject: RE: 2.669 Phonology and Sound Change
Thank you MIchael Jackson for your comments on [r] and vowels. But
I speak British English, and although I said my voiced alveolar
approximants are often rounded as well, I also said they're velarised
and the vowels after them are retracted; not the same as rounded.
On the other hand the other liquid in my system of liquids at the
syllable onset is always 'clear' by comparison; I think phonology
ought to say *something* about that, because there seems to be a liquid
system with two members, one of which is clear and the other dark.
OK so you might describe the retracted vowel afterwards as 'spreading',
coarticulation or whatever -- but that says nothing interesting about
the liquid system in my dialect of English. (Other dialects of English
have it the other way round: dark [l], clear [r]).
It seems to me that a feature that means /dark/ has as its phonetic
interpretation both [velarised] and [rounded], and I don't see why
I'd want two phonological features to do this, since the contrast is
/dark/ vs /clear/ in my liquid system.
You might be interested in:
John Kelly & John Local: Long-domain resonance patterns in English
in 'Speech input.Output: techniques and applications', IEE Conference
Publication No 258, 1986
Richard Ogden
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Message 2: R-Insertion

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 91 12:36:31 EDT
From: Michel Jackson <>
Subject: R-Insertion
This posting is LONG.
>In J.C. Wells' "Accents of English"(1982), volume 1, p. 226, he gives the
>rule for r-insertion in RP English (both linking /r/ and intrusive /r/)
> 0 -> r / [-high V]__ #0 V
> ... stuff deleted ...
>To my humble non-native ears, r-insertion after /u:/ appears to be
>possible, even though it is a close vowel, as in 'you and me' /ju:rnmi:/
>and 'hue and cry' /hju:rnkraI/. Am I right in assuming this?
> ... more stuff deleted ...
>Does anyone know how common intrusive r-insertion is in RP? Is it the
>predominant phenomenon in environments defined by the rule or not?
>Richard Piepenbrock
Gimson's _An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English_ (one of the
standard references on the topic) describes the following situation:
i) historical syllable-final /r/, called 'linking'
ii) inserted intervocalic /r/, called 'intrusive'
Gimson says (p. 258 of the 1989 edition)
	In the case of words which end with orthographic r, and
	/r/-link is regularly inserted between the final vowel
	of the stem /schwa, long accented mid central (backwards
	epsilon), long low back unrounded (script a), and
	long lower mid back rounded (open o)/ and any initial vowel
	of the suffix.
	This process applies to derivatioanl as well as to
	inflectional suffixes.
Gimson's examples included things like "blur" (no /r/ in isolation) /
"blurring" (with /r/) and "familiar" (no /r/ in isolation) /
familiarize (with /r/). These are simple cases that appear to be
correctly described by the rule you cite above.
In liason contexts between words, Gimson describes a more complex
situation. His discussion (p. 302 ff.) is as follows:
	RP retains word-final post-vocalic /r/ as a linking form when
	the following word begins with a vowel, i.e. in those cases
	where an [r] soudn existed in earlier forms of RP ... The
	vowel endings to which and /r/ _link_ may ... be added are
	/long low back unrounded (script a), long lower mid back rounded
	(open o)/ and those single or complex vowels containing final
	[schwa] (/schwa, long accented mid central (backwards epsilon)
	lax high front-schwa centering diphthong,
	upper mid front-schwa diphthong, lax high back-schwa
	centering diphthong/), e.g., in _far off_, _four aces_,
	_answer it_, _fur inside_, _near it_, _wear out_, _secure
	everything_. By analogy, this /r/ linking usage is extended
	to all /long low unrounded, long lower mid rounded, schwa/
	endings, even when there is no historical (spelling)
	justification. Such _intrusive_ /r/s are to be heard
	particularly in the case of /schwa/ endings. ... Less
	frequently, analogous links (unjustified by the spelling)
	are made with final /long low unrounded, long lower mid
	rounded/ ...
Gimson continues
	It shold be noted that, in synchronic terms, the same process
	is in operation whether the /r/ link inserted is historically
	justified (linking) or not (intrusive).
However, he observes (p. 303)
	There appears however, to be some gradation in the likelihood
	of occurrent as follows:
	(1) Where a word ends in a non-high vowel, the insertion of
	/r/ is _obligatory_ before a _suffix_ beginning with a vowel
	(2) Before another word, the insertion of such an /r/ is
	_optional_. However, it occurs in the vast _majority_
	of cases where a historically justified _linking_ of /r/
	is possible.
	(3) Where the /r/ link is _intrusive_, speakers tend to use
	it after /schwa/ ... more readily than
	(4) after /long low unrounded/ or /long lower mid rounded.
	There is considerable resistance to
	(5) the insertion of intrusive /r/ before a suffix (e.g.
	_strawy_ ...)
Thus, I would say that Gimson's account is very consistent with
Wells'. Gimson adduces no examples of linking or intrusive /r/ after
high vowels. It should be mentioned that this may be a result of the
fact that Gimson analyzes what might be considered underlyingly high
vowels before historical /r/ as phonemic diphthongs /I, U, e/ in
words like _near_, _secure_, and _wear_. This analysis allows him to
preserve the "non-high" generalization at the expense of a more
"surfacy" phonemic analysis. Which is, of course, exactly what you
had suspected.
So much for RP. There are, however, similar dialects in the US, & I
have a few black relatives who speak such dialects in the Southern Conn.
area (although their speech is also influenced by Virginian remnants
and New-Yorkisms) who have wildly generalized intrusive /r/s. In
unguarded moments, i've heard a cousin of mine say 'I see[r]'im about
once a week' and 'I saw[r]'em yesterday'.
This is of course anecdotal. But if you have had some exposure to
r-drop / r-intrusion dialects on this side of the Atlantic, it might
well account for your intuition that /r/s can be intruded after
high vowels.
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Message 3: (Re: 2.669) Autosegmental representations

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 91 09:45:49 PDT
From: Jim Scobbie <scobbieCsli.Stanford.EDU>
Subject: (Re: 2.669) Autosegmental representations
> Ellen Kaisse <> says:
>	 Richard G, echoed by Richard O, wonders if autosegmental
> representation can deal with the spreading of non-distinctive features
> and the partial assimilation of one segment to a neighbor. These
> questions are somewhat orthogonal to the question of how you represent
> phonological processes. That is, you tell the feature geometry what
> features are represented at some stage in the derivation and it will
> spread them for you. You need another part of your theory to tell you
> what features are available.
It is correct that the number and types of constraints operative at
any particular 'level' of a phonological description need not hold for
all such levels. But in order that we have some kind of continuity
that enables us to claim that all these levels are the same kind
of thing, ie phonological, we will have to define some ground rules
(constraints on phonological representations) which are good for
all levels.
For example, in a phonological feature bundle it might be a good
idea to ban any distinction between multiple copies of identical features.
So [+cont] = [+cont] = [+cont] (A)
 [+cont] [+cont]
And we might want to ban the presence of contradictorily-valued features:
So [+cont] (B)
 [-cont] is ill-formed.
I think both these formal properties of phonological representations
would be pretty well-accepted by many people as fairly basic to
Autosegmental Phonology (AP). The second has *not* been universally
adopted, especially in the hierarchical representations of AP, because
it is useful for describing contour segments. I think proponents of
this position are now on the defensive and need to prove their case.
This is because affricates, a typical contour segment, can be treated as
which involves no oppositely valued features (Lombardi, Steriade).
So, when we begin to discuss a phenomenon that starts to violate (A)
or (B), we might want to question whether we are doing something akin
to introducing new non-distinctive features (you could say that we are
just relaxing the constraints on the *combinations* of features that
occur -- because we are moving to the post-lexical level say), or
whether we are changing the ground rules for what constitutes
phonological form.
The treatment of intrusive stops, and the partial spreading of rounding are
cases (no pun intended!) in point. Ellen Kaisse points out that in current
> As for spreading of a feature partway into its neighbor, that's easy
> enough:
>	 X Y
> / \ |
> [-F] [+F]
> (again, the backslash should be dotted, indicating spread of +F from
> Y back onto X). What I just wrote will give you a contour segment X
> which starts out with one value of a feature and ends up with
> another. You can find actual uses in recent literature - e.g. Nick
> Clements' 1987 CLS Parasession paper on intrusive stops. Kiparsky 1985
> (_Phonology Yearbook_ 2) also talks about gradient phonological rules of
> this and other sorts in the LP model.
Now this look to me like a re-definition of feature geometry rather than the
introduction of non-distinctive segments using a novel feature combination.
Of course, really it is both, since every alteration to the basic rules of
feature geometry would allow new=non-distinctive structures. But is it
a good idea to allow such latitude?
You pays your money... If no underlying representations require a
geometrical form
 X (1)
 / \
 [+f] [-f]
but fr certain purposes such a representation appears useful, then you can
say that at the post-lexical level the definition of feature geometry
changes and use (1). My opinion is that this produces a bad theory.
My disseratation goes into this some.
Alternatively you could hold the feature-geometry constant and deal
with the phenomena that appear to require (1) in other ways --
by altering the timing and overlap
of the exponents of the features in question. This is to
claim that there are sophisticated, systematic, non-universal
rules of phonetic implementation. Is this contravertial?
Empirical considerations
ought to help determine which is better, along with the type of
theoretical considerations I've hinted at briefly above.
The reply to Richard Ogden's query (how does AP deal with such and
such an assimilation) is perhaps an "it shouldn't". If AP were a
predictive theory rather than, well, then it might say to us that it
is incapable of handling such-and-such a phenomenon, AND BE PLEASED
James M. Scobbie: Dept of Linguistics, Stanford University, CA 94305-2150
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Message 4: Re: Query intrusive r-insertion

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 91 15:37:09 BST
From: John Phillips <>
Subject: Re: Query intrusive r-insertion
The rule for r-insertion for me is that it can occur after any
vowel in theory. In practice you don't get high vowels on the ends
of words in standard English. `You' is [juw], so `you and me' is
[juwmmij]; `hue' is [hjuw] so `hue and cry' is [hjuwnkraj].
An intrusive r in the latter sounds wrong to me.
The former is a bit different because `you' is often pronounced
[j]. In non-RP English English you sometimes hear things like
[jrad] for `you had'. But children are taught at school that it
is wrong to put an r in where it is not spelt.
English regional dialects use intrusive r more freely, including
after high vowels, e.g. in
Gizzer bi. A birrer wo? (Give me a bit. A bit of what?)
['gIzbI] [bIr'wA]
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